It has been only a few months since my father died, and at times, the clock plays a wicked game of going backwards and going forward. There are times when I look back with memories, holding onto them with all my might. Then, there are times when I look to the future, and realize that he will no longer be there at my side. The bond we shared feels gone at times.
John Leon-Guerrero, passed away in February 19, 1998, at the age of 52. At his funeral, I made a point of remembering the good memories, the bad times, and remembering him how he was. I never got to speak about the times we had a bond.
In a world where love is spoken everywhere, it seems tragic that where love exists, it is sometimes difficult to acknowledge. Especially with fathers and sons, love can be a silent pact, an implicit agreement that both adhere to, but in subtle ways. However, there are moments where that love is more pronounced, where you bond. Those moments where the invisible wall comes down.
When I was a child, my father and I would drive to the park, where he would take me to the playground, and watch me play. It seems like yesterday. I still can recall the clear memories at the park, when I would dare my father to catch me, and run away. He would take me up on my dare, and I'd run away at full speed, turning around to see him in laughter, and seeing him laughing, too, "trying" to catch. Sometimes, he'd catch up, and the penalty was being lifted in the air by him and turned upside down (hardly a penalty, since I thought was more fun than running in circles..... less dizzying, too). We had a bond.
Once during a quiet evening, I sat reading, when an earthquake hit. It was not a large quake, and maybe I was too tired, but in fear I ran into the hallway, where my father was coming to check on me. Without pause, I came up to him and hugged him with all my might, and a sigh of relief. Not knowing how to react, he laughed, and told me it's alright. I don't recall what I said to Dad afterwards (I think it was just laughter), but it doesn't matter. We had a bond.
Dad and I also had our daily "gazette." I believe that more than singular events, the things we remember most fondly (and dearly) about our loved ones are the daily routines, and this was ours. Almost every night, before we went to bed, we would discuss what we did during the day, and we would watch the news, or share the newspaper. With each news story shown, or news article read, the banter would begin. And it would end with one of us announcing they were too tired to stay up, and we'd wish each other good night. Before Dad went to bed, he'd put his hand on my shoulder, and say "goodnight, son." We had a bond.
A few weeks before my father died, and his heart condition became worse, we sat together in our living room, with me massaging his back. It hurt me immensely to know my father was in such pain. Out of denial, or perhaps to maintain his dignity, I patted him on the shoulder when I was done. Without a word, my father put his arm around my shoulder, and gave me a hug. I paused, allowing us to share the moment. I value that simple hug more than anything; being "men" we shared company, not hugs or kisses. Still, we had a bond.
Of course, not every moment we had was bonding. There were times when we were angry or disappointed with each other, or times when we let each other down. There were times when we said things we regret, even if we knew deep down they were not meant. And, of course, I sometimes ask myself why I didn't tell or show my father that I loved him more (I tell my mother that now, every day). Still, we had a bond.
(Dad, do you remember that time we went to a funeral in 1996? It was sad, but I don't think we were too sad about it; if anything, we were looking at our watches. It's strange, Dad, I never knew I would be attending yours so soon, and it broke my heart.) And I can't believe that the most painful things I miss are things like doing the yardwork, or going out to a restaurant. Special occasions? Bah, who cares. Simple moments, when we left everyone behind, and shared an afternoon were the best memories, are the best and most painful memories to relive. And the humor! And as politically incorrect and ridiculous as this sounds, we, two educated men, had a habit of sometimes pointing out others and getting a laugh (I can hear you know, Dad...." God****, Big Mamma!! Biiiigggg Mamma!!") The laughter, Dad, now mixes with tears. And why not? I miss you. We had a bond.